Many of these changes are a normal part of the aging process and shouldn’t cause alarm. While everyone experiences the symptoms of aging differently, common age-related vision changes include:
- Dry eyes. Your body produces fewer tears as you age - especially for women after menopause. Burning or itching are common signs that your eyes may be too dry.
- Difficulty distinguishing colors. The cells in your retina that help with seeing color become less sensitive as you get older, making colors seem less bright or the contrast between colors less noticeable.
- Difficulty seeing close-up. The lenses in your eyes becomes less flexible over time, making it harder for you to focus on objects that are close. Reading or other close-up work may become more difficult, and most people will require reading glasses as they age.
- Issues with glare. Changes to the lenses in your eyes may also affect your light perception, creating more glare. You may start noticing glare especially from headlights while driving at night.
There are other age-related eye diseases - such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy - that are more serious and often require immediate treatment. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following warning signs:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Frequent changes in vision
- Seeing spots or flashes
- Seeing distorted images, such as straight lines that appear wavy
While some age-related vision changes are inevitable, there are things you can do to keep your eyes healthy throughout your lifetime. Celebrate 'Save Your Vision Month' in March by scheduling an eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. If you are over age 50, an exam is recommended every two years to help prevent or detect serious eye concerns.
This article first appeared in the March 2019 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.